Monday, November 25, 2019

Reclaiming My Name, "Winning" NaNo, and other Superpowers

Reclaiming Jo

I find myself in an awkward re-branding phase here in the fall of my 39th year. Since childhood, I've been called Jo or Joey in an even split. I always introduced myself with the slightly longer name as Joey is my full given name. Eventually, anyone that knew me well would call me Jo. My parents. My friends. My husband mostly calls me Jo.

We went to a local church starting in 2010 or some long time ago that we didn't tie tightly to any specific happening to firmly link it in our personal timeline. There was an important woman in that church that everyone called Jo. And I gave it up. 

I became Joey all the time.

My full married name sounds ridiculous to me. It always has. If I have to introduce myself, full first and last name, I'm apt to take on a heavy, fake, and poor Italian accent wherein I imagine myself a cousin that just got in from "the boot" meeting the Sopranos for the first time. In this image, I look like Danny DeVito. I'm fairly certain people that just see my name without me also picture Danny DeVito. Adding my middle name, Lynn, has done little to help.

Jo is a little better and over the years, without fully realizing, I've missed Jo. It's brief and dare I say cool?

In mid-2019, my family started going to a different church. It's further away, radically inclusive, and progressive. It's basically church-heaven to give it a theologically suspicious moniker. And in this church's very large congregation, I've yet to encounter another woman named Jo.

So after a couple of months at this new church, I decided to take my name back.

I write Jo on nametags. I've started signing emails with just Jo. And I'm up to a 50/50 split with introductions. I'm coming across as an awkward weirdo that doesn't know her own name, but it feels good. Good and less short, bald Italian man-ish.

"Winning" NaNoWriMo

I wrote about National Novel Writing Month two years ago. Specifically, I wrote about how I don't do NaNo and how I figured I'd never be able to do NaNo. Oh, doubting younger self, what a fool you were!

My daughter, age 14, writes like Alexander Hamilton. She writes every day, creatively. Her fantasy novels are beautiful and funny and highly readable. Someday she will blow us all away.

The 2019 NaNo was her suggestion. "Will you do NaNo with me, Momma?" There was adorable blinking and cuteness. Apparently, I'll go a long way to feel included at this juncture, so I said, "yes."

The regret was pretty immediate. We made this pact in early October and I was sitting on 30K of a rough draft on a new, actual fiction that I'd started about a year ago. I decided to think a lot about the next bit and then write like a busy bee in November. So while my daughter continued to plug away daily on her novel, I went on complete emotional hiatus from writing other than occasional passing thoughts of plot.

November 1st came and we were off. I, as a so-called freelance writer, at an obvious advantage due to my work from home flexibility. She was busy with school, ha!

Still, she posted about 300-400 more words than me each day. Excited by her lead, she suggested a side wager. Would I want to make a bet that I'd finish first? We made silly stakes and headed off to our laptops.

We kept pretty even through the first two weeks. A couple of busy days at school set her back. I pulled ahead. She stopped going to bed at night. I got 15K from the 50K goal and started to feel the thrill of finishing. Not so much achieving the goal, but freeing myself from writing every day.

Also, the story was going well.

But I was almost done, or so the NaNo website graphs seemed to suggest. On November 22nd, I wrote over 6,500 words and "won" NaNo. My daughter finished hers the next day.

In short, suck it 2017 me. You/I can totally write 50K in 30 days. In fact, you/I can write 50K in 22 days. Ha ha!

Other Superpowers

It has come to my attention, here in the fall of my 39th year, that I have certain superpowers. One is that I can predict, with a high level of accuracy, what will happen in a TV drama about 5-10 minutes before said event happens.

I noticed this first during an episode of Amazon Prime's Goliath. I basically called out what was going to happen and then, as though I'd watched it before, everything happened exactly as I'd said. My husband loves watching TV with me!

Then, on a NaNo writing day, I wrote an exact phrase and a whole scene of HBO's Succession that I didn't watch until the night after I wrote it.

Still trying to figure out how to monetize this ability, but I feel certain that a girl called Jo can do anything.